Seattle Home Inspector's Blog


"Murder, She Wrote!"

     In last Sunday's paper there was an article about the "special" difficulties of selling a home with a "sordid past."  It is interesting because all homes have "history"----even the new ones will have some construction stories that would prove interesting---if we ever found out about them.  For example the worker that got rushed to the hospital when he fell on a piece of rebar sticking out of the footing, or (as happened to one of my workers) a worker who cut an artery in his hand with a utility knife and proceeded to spray blood all over the newly painted walls, ceiling and floor (at least it was in the bathroom).

     Would these things keep someone from buying the house?  Probably not, they would just add "flavor" to the soup.  But what if several of the workmen or a family in the home had been viciously murdered?  This might be more difficult and would require either some special "spin" or out-and-out omission of the facts. 

     Perhaps some of you agents can chime in and tell me if that is something that has to be disclosed or not.

     What I find interesting is that these types of things are all a matter of "spin" and "relativity."  For example let's take a home where some heinous crime/murder took place 50 or 100 years ago----then the event almost can become a selling point---as people would be buying a bit of history and intrigue.  I know a house here in Seattle that supposedly has a tree where someone was hanged 100 years ago----I doubt that this fact would keep anyone from buying this piece of property today.  Now if the hanging happened in our life time---in real time---it very likely might.  Although, it seems that there are people into all sorts of novelties these days.

    There was a movie called "Crash" starring James Spader and Holly Hunter (previous to the awesome one about illegal immigrants) where there were these "clubs" of people that preferred to work in morgues and that would create auto crashes so that they could witness first hand----death, dying and serious injury.  Now these people would be a great pool of people to seek out to buy houses with "sordid pasts."

     I have a question?  Would you rather live in a house where someone had been murdered or where there had been a Meth lab?  Most of you are probably saying "neither."  At some point, there will always be someone that will be able to "spin" the story of the house into something their mind can accept. What kinds of stories can we make up about what went on in this home?

bad house 
















Charles Buell 

     PS, for those of you that are new to my blog (or for some other "unexplained" reason have never noticed)sunsmile all  pictures and smiley-face inserts (emoticons) have messages that show up when you point at them with your cursor.

sign me up





picture logo

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Seattle Home Inspector


The Human Rights Campaign   QR code for Charles Buell Inspections Inc


WA State, Home Inspector Advisory Licensing Board

Comment balloon 10 commentsCharles Buell • April 29 2008 09:32AM


Interesting question, Charles.  I've never had to deal with this problem with a client, but I have known houses that I would call a 'divorce' house, because it would come on the market again and again every two years or so, and the owners would have gotten a divorce - again.
Posted by Joan Snodgrass (Midamerica Referral Network) about 12 years ago


You are suppossed to be getting ready to teach a class. What you doin in active rain big guy? This is my week to kick your rear with being tied up sharing your wisdom.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) about 12 years ago
I had a buyer once who really liked a particular house.  However, it backed up to a cemetary and he refused to buy it.  He would also ask whether anyone had died in the house he might be interested in.  Personally, I'd love to meet a spirit and would consider it inspiring.  Wouldn't you, Charles and Steven?
Posted by Barbara S. Duncan, GRI, e-PRO, Executive Broker, Searcy AR (RE/MAX Advantage) about 12 years ago

A former Meth-Lab home would be out of the question. A murder wouldn't bother me as long as the mess was cleaned up and not part of the catagory "A real Fixer-upper". I did own a home which a previous homeowner use to grow dope in the basement...didn't bother me, I just had a room with extra lighting.LOL

Sean Allen

Posted by Sean Allen, International Financing Solutions (International Financing Solutions ) about 12 years ago
As far as disclosing this info., if it will affect how the buyer intends to use the home, then it should be disclosed. It is rare that there is ever an instance where this happens and usually falls on the buyer's agent and the knowledge they may have of the property. As far as the seller goes, they have no legal duty to disclose murders,suicides,gang activity,future development, religious or political activity and/or registered sex offenders. In Washington in particular, there have been revisions to the contracts to impose a duty of dilligence on the buyer to fully investigate the property and any information provided by the seller.
Posted by Kristina Jennings (Windermere RE/Wall St. Inc.) about 12 years ago


That question is on our Arkansas Sellers Property Disclosure Form.

#35  To your knowledge, are there any facts, circumstances or events on or around the property, which, if known to a potential buyer, could adversely affect in a material manner the value or desirability of the property?

This means has anyone died on the property, been murdered, or anything that would make the property undesirable to some people.  Does it have a cemetery on it?


Posted by Mary PAUL, ABR, CRS,GRI, e-PRO, (RE/MAX Advantage Realtors, Searcy, AR) about 12 years ago
Charles, The "Hanging Tree" that was in front of my in laws house had to be cut down a few years ago. It never seemed to harm the sale of the property even despite its notoriety.
Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) about 12 years ago

I think nearly every house probably had something going on in it at one time or another that ...if we knew about it, we would not approve, or maybe even be moved not to buy it.

Murder and meth labs are the extreme examples. Murder can be cleaned up and forgotten about I suppose, leaving only the memory and spin left about the house. Meth lab on the other hand may be a little more difficult to entirely clean up, and be assured that it is. And maybe a forensic scientist would totally disagree with me, I don't know.

If it was a famous person who was murdered, then that puts a whole different spin on it. Some people might even pay more for such a house, just so they could say they owned the house that such and such met his demise in.

I once bought a 4-wheeler that was previously owned by Mike Tyson. It probably influenced my decision to buy it at the time. Now I just tell people that my ear hurts a little when I ride it. LOL

Posted by Kevin Corsa, H.I.S. Home Inspections, Stark & Summit County, OH Home Inspector (H.I.S. Home Inspections (Summit, Stark Counties)) about 12 years ago
I have a realtor friend with a listing that is a house next door to a "murder" house. It is not making it any easier to show the property for sure. People think it is the murder house when it is not. In this case close might be bad enough.
Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) about 12 years ago

Joan, every house seems to have a history---divorce is a very common story---unfortunately.

Barbara, I can't speak for Steve (given is proclivity for "Magic") but I prefer my "spirits" in liquid form:)

Sean, "grow ops" probably would bother most people but Meth Ops probably should bother people more than someone dying---especially violently.

Kristina, sounds sort of like "advanced" buyer beware (or buyer "do your homework!)----I think I agree with that to some extent.

Mary, thanks

Michael, I think when these sorts of things get old enough---they become curiosities----even selling points:)

Kevin, how is your ear these days?:)

Steve, That is interesting---things like this affecting even nearby houses.  I guess it is no different than whole areas of cities that have "reputations" for one reason or another.


Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 12 years ago